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The pen is mightier than the sword


If the pen is mightier than the sword, the camerphone is mightier than the cruise missile. It’s the most powerful device for ensuring freedom. If you live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue you might equate freedom with democracy, but that’s not necessarily the case. You can be far from free in a democracy if you live in a minority and you can be perfectly free in a monarchy or dictatorship.

What matters is the ability to state your case, to let the world know of your plight, be it Fathers for justice or Tibetan monks. Twenty years ago news could be orchestrated, companies or governments could manage who knew what. Ten years ago the power to silence media was still in place, as the D-notice held firm but the internet and in particular the mobile internet means that the days of border guards ripping the film out of cameras are over.

Camera phones might principal use may be teens sending one another pictures of each other in various states of inebriation and undress, but they are also a powerful tool for the truth. The police might deny a protester was kicked in a demonstration but it’s much harder to do when there is video of it happening. By making the ability to photograph and record what’s happening and get it straight onto the web we as the mobile phone industry are changing the world. Just as typewriters and photocopiers were banned by controlling regimes, there is a merited distrust of the mobile phone but that genie is out of the bottle. Half the world’s population has a phone and that makes it impossible to stop. It’s the mechanism that matters. Using a digital camera, taking it to an internet cafe and blogging is part of the way there but standing under the raining Molotov cocktails and having it straight to blogger.com is not only more  exciting it’s unstoppable.

Of course mobile phones are a great way to get caught, don’t think that you are safe if you hang onto a phone that has taken an incriminating picture, your IMEI and IMSI will be linked to a Cell ID and you can expect a knock on the door, but with pre-pay and caution you can disappear. The most common way that careful bloggers get caught is by regularly going into the same internet cafes and reading their pages, but in the security game of cat and mouse it’s the mouse which is getting good at staying one step ahead. The effect is already starting to be shown, governments – regardless of their political leanings – are having to be more accommodating, putting the news in the hands of the people is putting the power there too.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here.


Japanese Children hooked on mobiles, which I guess is better than lots of other things.

The news that Samsung is using Infineon rather than Qualcomm misses the major point. What Infineon is good at is the low end cheap as chips, er, chips. The deal shows that they are serious about taking on Nokia in the mass market.  

Last week I wrote about M:Metrics, source of great stats. They’ve been sold For the first time ever Handset sales have declined. Is this a trend or a blip? Adobe and Brew. It will be interesting to see if they can play nice

Lots of people believe in mobile advertising, Orascom has invested USD 10 m in in MyScreen. One of those people is  Google boss Eric Schmidt Let’s hope he read my warnings about Nokia.

Vodafone wanted to buy MTN and to expand in India but it looks like that other things might make that too difficult.  
Another mobile payments trial. Yawn.

Oh goodie, new handset manufacturers, this time from the home of my favourite cat – Jaguar cars.

AT&T have what the world really needs a simple phone.

Loads of people have iPhone deals. Including Hutchison in Hong Kong.

When are they going to realise that their home market is already saturated with unlocked imports?

Someone at Vodafone Germany  Needs to read my views on mobile TV.


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